Norway issues new Post Horn stamp Sept. 12, continuing series that began 142 years ago

The newest stamp in a long line of Post Horn definitives is Norway’s 70-krone self-adhesive issued Sept. 12.

The first stamp in Norway’s Post Horn definitive series is the 3-skilling rose, which was issued in late 1871 or early 1872. Image courtesy Postiljonen Auction House of Malmo, Sweden (www.postiljonen.se).

The four very similar designs of Norway’s Post Horn issue during the 19th century: at top, the 1872 and 1877 designs; at bottom, varieties of 1882 and 1893.

The first overprinted stamp in the Post Horn series is the 2o-on-12o surcharge of 1888, created to provide postage for a reduced local letter rate.

After 91 years, the Post Horn design was revised in 2001, and new stamps were issued in bolder colors. High denomination stamps were given silver frames starting in 2010. At left, the 1kr green stamp of 2001, and at right, the 30kr dull violet stamp of 2010.

By Michael Baadke

Norway Post (Posten Norge) is issuing a 70-krone Post Horn self-adhesive definitive stamp Sept. 12 in panes of 100.

The new stamp fulfills the current postage rate for larger A-priority mail sent within Norway that measures 2 centimeters to 7 centimeters (0.8 inches to 2.75 inches) thick and weighs up to 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds).

The 70kr face value is roughly equivalent to $11.33 in United States dollars.

It is the highest face value Post Horn stamp issued by Norway in the 142-year history of the definitive series, and the first stamp in the series to be initially issued as a self-adhesive.

In its Norway Post Stamps bulletin No. 3/2014, Norway Post stated that as of 2014, the Post Horn stamps greater than 10kr value would be issued on self-adhesive paper in sheets of 100 with a gutter separating two groups of 50 stamps.

Norway Post provided the preliminary design of the 70kr stamp pictured here.

The new stamp was designed and engraved by Enzo Finger and Sverre Morken, and offset printed by Joh. Enschede Security Print.

Norway Post offers single stamps and gutter pairs, first-day covers, presentation packs and additional products for the new stamp.

Details are available online from Norway Post at www.posten.no/en. Norway’s new issue agency in the United States is Nordica, Box 284, Old Bethpage, NY 11804.

The new stamp is the latest in a line of Norwegian Post Horn definitive stamps that traces back to 1872. The earliest known use of the first stamp in the series, the 3-skilling rose, was in Jan. 7 of that year, according to the Oslo Filatelistklubb’s Norgeskatalogen catalog of the postage stamps of Norway.

Ian Angus (reportedly a pseudonym for James A. Mackay), writing in the January 1987 issue of Stamps, places the first day of sale for the 3sk rose even earlier, on Dec. 25, 1871.

The stamp design has changed little in the ensuing 142 years: It still consists of a central oval surrounding a crowned post horn, with the country name “Norge” lettered across the top of the oval. The numerals of value appear within the loop of the post horn, and the denomination appears again, either in words or in figures, in the lower part of the oval.

In each corner is a wheel with a pair of wings affixed, symbolizing the railway that has been so instrumental in moving the mail throughout history.

The original design was created by German architect Wilhelm von Hanno (1826-82), who had moved to Oslo (then known by the name Christiania) in 1850. The design was engraved by Philip Batz of Copenhagen.

The first stamps in the series were letterpress printed in Oslo (Christiania) by P. Petersen, on paper with a post horn watermark.

The first Post Horn set consisted of six denominations (Scott 16-21) issued over the course of four years, 1872-75.

Just within those six stamps, the Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940 makes note of several color, printing and paper varieties, including one variety for the 1875 1sk yellow green stamp that includes a period inserted between the first two letters of the word “EEN” (the denomination “one”), so as to spell it as “E.EN” (Scott 16b).

During the 19th century, the design underwent some minor alterations, beginning after Norway joined the Scandinavian Monetary Union and the country’s stamps were revalued in ore and krone in 1877. The word “postfrim,” a shortened version of “postfrimarke” (postage stamp) was inserted in the bottom part of the central oval.

Additional engraving on the issue of 1882-93 resulted in different shading in the ring of the post horn. And in 1893, yet another revision in the design resulted in the country name “NORGE” inscribed in Roman letters with serifs rather than the previous sans-serif lettering.

The 12-ore brown stamp of the 1882 series (Scott 42) became the first overprinted Post Horn stamp in 1888 when a 2o surcharge was applied (46). Angus/Mackay reported that the creation of this provisional stamp came about “to prepay the now greatly reduced local letter rate.”

Another small change in 1910, which the Scott catalog describes as a redrawn design, removed a spot of color in the ring of the post horn, directly below the crown, and revised the appearance of the numeral “3” on the 3o and 30o values.

That redrawn version of the original design served as the staple for this series for more than 90 years. During that period, Post Horn stamps were printed by letterpress, gravure (in 1937), intaglio (in 1962) and offset lithography (in 1997).

Following the 1940 invasion of Norway by Germany, the country’s stamps were overprinted with a large letter V, intended by the Nazi occupiers to signify their victory.

Bruce Peterson, writing for the Smithsonian Institution’s Arago website, stated, “This overprint inspired the Norwegian resistance to use the ‘V’ for the phrase ‘Vi vill vinne’ (We will win), which was spread throughout occupied Norway and also featured on a stamp issued by the Norwegian exile government in 1944.”

Norway began to use phosphorescent paper for its postage stamps in 1968, and the first engraved issues of 1962 on ordinary paper (Scott 416-419) were reissued Jan. 23, 1969, on phosphorescent paper.

In 2001, Norway Post commissioned the country’s “most prominent stamp designers,”Sverre Morken and Enzo Finger, to give the Post Horn design “a veritable facelift.”

“The original motif — ingenious in its simplicity — was combined with a modern design and the resulting stamps were met with acclaim by stamp collectors all over the world,” Norway Post reported.

The Scott catalog explains that the differences between the 1910 revision and the 2001 version can be seen in the vertical shading lines, the size and shading of the post horn, and in the corner wings.

The eight new stamps were issued in denominations ranging from 50o to 9kr from 2001 to 2005 (Scott 1282A-1291).

Three more stamps were issued in 2010 with new denominations of 4kr, 8kr and 30kr. The 30kr stamp was printed with a silver frame, bringing special attention to its high face value.

Since then, one or two Post Horn stamps have been issued each year by Norway Post, all with higher denominations and silver frames: a 50kr in 2011 (Scott 1661), a 40kr in 2012 (1690), a 10kr and 20kr in 2013 (1723-1724), and the 2014 70kr stamp.

Despite the many varieties found in the Post Horn series that make it a terrific challenge for the stamp collector, the new 70kr stamp still bears a very strong resemblance to that 3sk rose issue from so many years ago.

With 142 years of history behind it, the Post Horn definitive series is likely to hold the record for stamp design longevity forever.

Published 8/29/2014 10:40 AM